17 JUNE 1949, Page 30

Shorter Notices

An Essay on the Content of Education. By Eric James. (Harrap. 5s.) IN this short book of just over a hundred pages the High Master of Manchester Grammar School raises many of the fundamental issues of education. What subjects should be taught at school and university ; how much specialisation should there be ; what does equality in education imply ; how much liberty is there ? Taking Plato as partial guide, hest/tams a number of important suggestions— not being afraid of outspokenness, as when he condemns teachers for applauding the Government's tendency to decrease their own responsibility (as, for example, in determining the age at which a child shall take an external examination), but generally in a spirit of sweet reasonableness. The criterion for subjects to be studied at a university, he suggests, is the scope they give for " important spiritual experiences." Specialisation must be accepted ; knowledge has increased so much that the Renaissance ideal of the complete man has become unattainable. But we should decide the minimum of know- ledge that is desirable in an educated citizen, and see that the specialists acquire it, and the specialist subjects should be taught in relationship to other studies. Dr. James opposes multilateral schools as penalising the more gifted pupils, and he has some wise things to say about religious teaching. The whole book is written persuasively with a wide practical experience behind it. It will interest parents as well as teachers themselves.